Throughout the midst of this week, I haven’t seen too many eye-catching strange occurrences happening in the legal world. But then I realized there was something major happening: Comic Con. If you’ve seen or read the news in the past week or so, you may have been hearing about San Diego Comic- Con, one of the nation’s largest comic conventions. If you remember from my Nerds and the Law segment that I started at the beginning of the June, I mentioned I was a nerd and proud of it. Comic Con is a heaven for nerds; but the title of Comic Con doesn’t just belong to San Diego, it belongs to other Comic Conventions like New York Comic Con, Boston Comic Con and Tampa Bay Comic Con (which I will be attending this weekend). But the convention that’s in question here is Salt Lake Comic Con, a comic convention that has done so well for its first year; it’s received a cease-and-desist letter from San Diego Comic-Con.
The Comic Con-fusion
Fan and comic based conventions have been around since the 1950’s and they’re not going away anytime soon. More notably, San Diego Comic-Con has been around since the 1970’s and has even trademarked its “Comic-Con” name. Alas, this is where the confusion comes into play, because as of the beginning of this week; Salt Lake Comic Con received a cease-and-desist from the behemoth convention giant stating that there was confusion between the two names. The letter in question even states:
“It is clear that your convention services are for the exact services identified (with SDCC)… Moreover, these services are directed at the same attendees and exhibitors as are the SDCC’s Comic-Con services”.
But this isn’t the first time San Diego Comic-Con has tried this stunt, reports Bryan Brandenburg Co-CEO of Salt Lake Comic Con. They tried it once before with Chicago Comic Con and failed. Brandenburg also noted that Comic Con is not a unique phrase as there are a number of comic based conventions around the world with a similar title.
However, you may be wondering why there’s a bit of misunderstanding with the popular phrase. The term “Comic-Con” is a trademarked name, but not the phrase “Comic Con”. The only difference is the hyphenation between the two words.
But this bit of con-fusion spells a bit of disaster for not only the Salt Lake show, but other conventions around the nation as well. If the issue lands in court and SDCC succeeds, it could mean disaster for all other Comic Cons with the same title.
Brandenburg reported that Salt Lake Comic Con has always prevailed and will do it again despite the threatened litigation. As for now, the Salt Lake show is all set to happen in September and he expects that this year will be the biggest and best yet.
Comic Conventions are fairly large in attendance, with people dressing up as their favorite characters from Television shows, movies and games.
I remember a couple of weeks ago I was watching a YouTube from Gerry Oginski, Esq. and it discusses about a time in his life where he was truly the “richest man in the world”. The respective statement caused Gerry to open his eyes and realize that attorneys are human beings too:
Sometimes as legal professionals we see this as harsh reality (it’s the same for me in the world of marketing!) Ultimately we take pride in our jobs; because it’s something we enjoy pursuing. Yes sometimes our jobs may be rigorous and difficult; but it’s never too late to reflect back on yourself and say: “My life is forever rewarding, all is well in my world.”
My life is a rich and prosperous one. Whether it’s my friends, family, money or job, it brings me great joy to wake up each day and realize those magnificent gifts blessed before me.
I have complete control and balance in my life. As much as I love my job, I love my family and home too. Everything provides absolute abundance and happiness.
I see my life as a prosperous entrepreneur. There’s never a day that passes by when I apply the attributes of the phrase: “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day”.
Whether we’re rich or old, young or poor, we are always rich at heart. Always try to reflect on your efforts and realize, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow!”
Let’s talk about the TSA again, because sometimes they clearly can’t perform their jobs correctly. Normally when these incidents occur, it’s usually involving one or maybe two TSA agents; but for this incident it involved the entire security checkpoint at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). 53 year old male, Eric Slighton, slipped his way into the security checkpoint and proceeded to grope two women in a private screening booth.
The TSA is looking the Wrong Way
Negligence can happen to the best of us, but when it involves the entire security personnel, it becomes a problem. According to the report by CBS San Francisco, Slighton had already slipped through security and grabbed some screening gloves. He then went to one of the airport lounges to drink but then came back and imposed himself as a screening officer wearing a blue polo shirt as well as beige khaki pants. Apparently that was enough for Slighton to obtain a foreign female for some additional screening. What happened to the foreign female remains a mystery, as she ran off to catch a flight minutes later. But inappropriately screening one passenger wasn’t enough, because Slighton then did the actions once again and this time TSA caught him.
“If I go through security with a quarter in my pocket, security catches it. Then this guy comes in and pats women down.” claims Ken from KPIX 5 Studio in San Francisco.
According to Kevin Underhill from Lowering the Bar, it’s time for the TSA to “add another level of security!” and I couldn’t agree with him more. As usual, the TSA failed to provide a response to the incident. Lucky for Slighton he’s facing a public drunkenness charge, but he could be facing a lot worse soon. Improvising a security officer isn’t a misdemeanor, it’s a felony.
Lesson learned kids; Alcohol and Airports don’t mix well.
For those of you who have listened to Louise Hay’s 101 Power Thoughts, you’ll understand how powerful an affirmation can be. Within the respect of having such a busy life as a legal professional, one might ask how we can keep a steady mind. Truly, there are no wrong answers to finding such a solution. One may take the time during their lunch break (which I do sometimes myself) to close their eyes and meditate on the goodness and positive aspects of a job. Another may read books, go to church or hang out with their friends on a weekly basis. The possibilities are almost endless. Primarily, the focus of this brand new segment is to tune into the wonderfulness of having such a successful career in the legal field or wherever you may be.
As per the respect of others, I will do my best to leave out the topics of spirituality and religion.
An Appropriate Beginning to Powerful Affirmations
Normally, when I tune my mind into a powerful affirmation, I like to have some relaxing / meditative music accompanying me. For those of you who can listen to this soothing music (more preferably at work), by all means play it – I think it will make a huge difference while reading the following transcriptions.
I am superior and I am in control of my world around me. At any time I can shift my mentality to a positive one, which will carve the path for endless prosperity and abundance in my job or field.
The tasks that I perform at my job, benefits others tremendously. Whether I’m starting off at the beginning of my career or I am nearing retirement, there will always be opportunities and advantages for myself and others in my industry.
I am always performing the best I can in my career. The efforts of my labor and hard work are always rewarding.
While these three affirmations may only be the beginning, there are plenty more to come in the following weeks. I look forward to writing another ‘Affirmations for Legal Professionals’ next week – take care.
A baseball park clearly isn’t a place where you go to sleep, according to announcer John Kruk. But if you do, you might want to be worried about your face being plastered worldwide. Clearly this was the incident that occurred on April 13, to a ‘so-called’ Yankees fan known as Andrew Rector. Rector, 26, was caught napping at Yankees Stadium during a live broadcast against the Boston Red Sox. When Rector caught heat of this news, he didn’t take it too lightly.
The 4th Inning Snooze
In some occurrences, the sport of baseball has turned out horrible its beloved fans, even placing one in a witness protection program. But Rector won’t be placed in any witness protection program; as a matter of fact, he’s retaliating against the incident with a lawsuit of 10 million dollars against the MLB and ESPN network. Perhaps before moving any further, you’ll need to see the video snippet that was captured by ESPN:
You Snooze, You Lose
In regards to Rector’s claim, it states the announcers used words like: “fatty, unintelligent and stupid”. Nowhere in the clip does ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk state that. The only questionable issue here was the acts of defamation and invasion of privacy. According to Jonathan Turley, a George Washington Law Professor said the arguments of defamation and invasion of privacy did not play a role in this incident. Turley noted more importantly that on the back of each New York Yankees ticket, it clearly states:
“use the bearer’s voice, image or likeness, individually or as part of a crowd shot… and that such bearer’s voice, image or likeness may be included in any footage, photograph, poster, advertisement or recordings of the game.”
Rector clearly understood this was a publicly televised game and when you’re in such a forum, your expectations of privacy can be pretty low.
Turley also stated that Rector’s defamation claim was also weak and highlights that truth is a defense in this argument. Shulman and Kruk’s statements, to some, may have been disrespectful; however they stated the truth during the broadcast. Whatever was stated in the comments afterwards on the MLB forums and online are mere opinions which are protected in the United States from liability.
Do I think it was wrong that the MLB and ESPN broadcasted and highlighted Rector’s napping? Absolutely, but by all means they had a legal right to do so.
From one of our previous articles here on the Accurate Court Reporting, Inc. blog, we mentioned we would be doing a ‘Social Media for Law Firms – Yelp’ edition. Today, we’re finally going to cover this website and out of all of the social media reviews we’ve done so far, this may be the most valuable of them all.
There’s a Reason to Yelp!
Just like with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more, you probably have heard of Yelp. The core of Yelp’s essence lies within its user review system. Any business, whether they’ve signed up for Yelp or not, most likely will appear in the Yelp directory. So that means for a good portion of you who work at law firms, your business will appear on Yelp. If your business happens to be on there, it’s a target for user reviews. Don’t take this as a negative, because this system could work out very well in your favor.
Yelp Can Make or Break Your Business
Before you start sweating, perhaps you might want to take a look at the impact of all the businesses on Yelp based on user reviews:
Over 60% of the user reviews on Yelp (since January 2014) are based from 5-star (the highest) to 4-star rankings, so the chances of your actual practice being part of those numbers is pretty good. But in order to achieve a high ranking, there are some measures you can take to ensure the best light possible.
Claim Your Business. It’s the first step in the Yelp process and it’s free. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One way is to visit the claim your business listing page or on the bottom of your respective business page, you’ll notice a link that will ask you to unlock this business. If you don’t see that link, you’ll need to contact customer support because someone else may have already claimed the listing as their own. I would advise not to wait on this procedure because there have been a numerous amount of fraudulent claims on the Yelp website.
Make Sure Your Information is Accurate. Once again, this is another simple process that’s similar to most other business listing sites out there. While sites like Neustar, Infogroup and Acxiom have scoured the world to find business and their information, the result of that information is not always correct. These instances would include the name of your company, accurate hours and phone number as well the best description of the services you provide.
Take Your Reviews to Heart. You may have just claimed your business via Yelp, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a handful of people who haven’t reviewed it yet. As per claiming your business page, you’ll be able to respond to those reviews whether they’re good or bad. Most likely, you’re going to want to respond to the negative ones so it can show the world that as a business owner you actually care about your clientele. Despite the good or bad reviews that are populated onto your page, they will not be removed, it’s that simple. However, as legal professionals we understand the consequences of false light upon others.
Enhance Your Yelp Experience. Responding to reviews and claiming your business is one thing on Yelp, but there’s so much more you can do. A great recommendation is to add photos to your business page as well as studying your page’s metrics. You can also invest in some advertising on Yelp, which perhaps may be a benefit for your business if you’re just starting up.
Customer Reviews Mean More Than You Think
Many years ago, I questioned this theory on the power of how testimonials can play a role into someone’s business. For the sake of Accurate Court Reporting, Inc. we’ve established numerous amounts of leads just from a user review or a recommendation alone. If you’re wondering what those numbers are – it’s probably around 25%. Granted now, we may not have the strongest presence on Yelp, but we most certainly do on our website. See you next month for another Social Media for Law Firms!
For as long as we know, there have been different hypes and fads that have trended throughout the cultures of younger generations. Probably over the course of the past year or so, one of those fads / hypes has been involving men (especially of those who are involved online) posing themselves with tigers. More so, these acts have been so prolific in one dating app in particular, known as Tinder.
Tinder and Tigers Oh My!
Perhaps there is a handful you who have never used the dating app known as Tinder (and neither have I). But after a small bit of research, I realized that Tinder links into your Facebook profile and does a quick speed match of those who are in your geographical area. If you want a full explanation of how the app works, take a look at the video below:
But if you thought we were sugarcoating the phenomenon of the Tiger Selfies, let me elaborate to you of how popular this has become. Not only has it been claimed that per every 10 swipes on Tinder you’re most likely to find a ‘Tiger-Selfie’, there’s an entire blog on Tumblr dedicated to these kinds of pictures. Also, let’s not forget about other popular photo sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest; they’ve caught heat of this hype too.
You’d think that with this sensation spreading like a wildfire would be completely harmless to society, right? Well, according to New York legislature that’s not the case.
Wanna Take a Tiger Selfie? I Don’t Think So!
The actions of the new Tiger Selfie law most likely began with assemblywomen Linda Rosenthal, who proclaimed that tigers and other large cats like lions, cougars, jaguars and leopards are dangerous to human society and associating with these animals is inhumane in nature. To protect the actions of both humans and large cats alike, Rosenthal introduced a bill that would ban people from interacting with large cats in the State of New York.
Rosenthal noted to the New York Post, that individuals “can still pose with bears and monkeys, but they have to take big cats off their list”.
But even with the numerous amount of attention that has widespread throughout New York legislature, there have been a few details that have been overlooked. For one, a majority of the pictures that were taken previously don’t constitute as selfies to begin with. A selfie, by the actual Google definition, is defined as:
“…A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
Clearly the greater portion of these so called: “Tiger Selfies” weren’t taken by the ones in the photo; hence they do not qualify as a selfie.
But with that noted and aside, it’s going to be hard for New York officials to pinpoint the individuals who decide to break this law if it does go into action. Taking a photo with a tiger may seem harmless, but if you plan to do that in the state of New York, it’s going to add a whole new meaning to the word ‘daredevil’.
Escape the wrath of a tiger and a $500 fine! Perhaps you’ll win a prize? NOT.
Sadly enough, a majority of women in general (and let’s not even touch Tinder) aren’t that impressed anymore with these kinds of pictures. Sorry New York bachelors, perhaps you might want to take a photo of yourself skydiving instead – I hear women adore that.
It’s that special time of year again (and no it doesn’t involve snow or visiting your in-laws); it’s where we celebrate with cookouts, parades and more importantly fireworks. That’s right it’s Fourth of July and instead of populating our blog with a Legally Strange or Apps for Legal Professionals this week, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the legality and safety of fireworks, which by perchance happens to be a “hot” topic. Funny, right?
To be fair, we have to get a better understanding of what kind of Fireworks are legal. Sure everyone wants to have the ultimate spectacle display right in their own backyard, but there are rules and regulations and before I go any further, I will say there are a ton of variants that play into this rule.
Types of Fireworks
To start, you’ll need to know the two types of Firework classes. There’s your Class B Firework (Display Firework) and then there’s your Class C Firework (Consumer Firework). There’s also a Class A Firework, but that’s saved for explosives such as dynamite, TNT and flash powder. Even though the classification systems have changed over time, the first rule about creating your own firework spectacular is that Display Fireworks (Class B) are illegal. (Let’s not even touch Class A).
More notably, in the CPSC’s guide to Fireworks, certain fireworks like re loadable mortar shells, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, aerial bombs, firecrackers containing more than 2 grams of powder and mail-order custom build-it-yourself firework kits are banned.
However, with Consumer Fireworks, they’re legal in just about every state. Where and how you can use them is based on your local laws. (This is where the variants come into play.) As of June 1, 2014, there are only 40 states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) that allow the trade sale and usage of consumer fireworks:
There are only 5 states that allow sparklers and novelty fireworks:
There’s only one state that allows novelty fireworks:
Finally, there are only 4 states that ban the usage and sale of consumer fireworks:
Granted now the information you see here may eventually out-date itself and by next June, there will probably be another publication to discuss the legality of Fireworks across America.
But knowing your state and local laws is only half the battle. No one wants to go their own fireworks show by losing a foot, yet alone losing a life. To ensure your safety this holiday season, I’ve compiled a list of safety tips from various online resources:
If you’re concerned about an injury, don’t bother to set-off fireworks. Instead go to your local firework showing.
Fireworks can sometimes be loud, especially public display ones. Either have a pair of ear-plugs handy or some headphones to drown out the sound.
Alcohol and Fireworks don’t mix. Ever. (If you have the common sense to not drink and drive, you should have the common sense to do this.)
Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher ready in case of emergency. Make sure someone knows how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
Don’t allow children to play with fireworks (yet alone sparklers) unsupervised. Sparklers, as they ideally seem safe for the young, they can burn at temperatures up to 1200 degrees. If you don’t feel you should let your children handle sparklers or any other sort of fireworks, resort to using glow-sticks. They’re just as fun.
Don’t ever light fireworks in a metal container, yet alone a glass container.
Always observe local laws.
Set off fireworks in clear area away from houses, dry leaves, grass or any kind of flammable materials.
Never stand over a firework when lighting it off.
If you experience a dud (which may happen more than you think), don’t run over and inspect it. Instead, douse the firework in water and dispose of it.
Never light a firework indoors (This should be common sense).
Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. If there are special instructions on storing your firework(s), make sure to abide by them accordingly.
If an injury does occur, call 9-1-1 immediately. If someone’s eye is damaged or injured by using fireworks, make sure they don’t rub it in any way, as it could make the situation worse.
If you wish to report a dangerous product, or a product-related injury you can call the CPSC’s hotline: 800-638-2772 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you come this far and read everything, I applaud you. You’ll be safe and ready to go this Fourth of July for whatever firework event you may attend. Have a great and happy holiday and I’ll see you when we return next week, take care.
If you remember back in January when we did our first official Legally Strange for this year, we discussed about a Pop Tart gun chewing bill, which apparently created quite the controversy all over the nation. It just so happens that we’re back (once again) talking about the same topic, but this time in our home state of sunny Florida. Apparently this issue prompted Florida legislature to do something about it, but believe me they had good reasons to do so.
Recap on the Pop Tart Gun Chewing Bill
To be fair, the issue had to start somewhere. The whole reason for this controversy was because a seven year old (yes you heard me right) from Baltimore, Maryland was suspended for chewing a pop tart into a shape of a gun. It wasn’t before long that Rep. Sally Kern from Oklahoma took action and decided to announce a new bill called the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act. Surprisingly, that bill looks like it will go into effect this coming Tuesday (July 1st). The act, as you probably guessed, prohibits schools in the state of Oklahoma from enacting on scolding / punishing students from chewing their food into the shape of weapons. The act also prevents other misleading instances of weapons too (i.e. pens, pencils and imaginary figures).
Florida takes a Bite out of Crime… Well… Sort Of…
So you may be asking yourself, “How come Florida is getting dragged into all of this?” Well, it turns out that earlier this year a student was expelled (yeah not suspended) from a North Florida district school for looking at a picture of a gun in a book.
There’s not a lot of information about the student’s expulsion, which makes me believe there’s much more to the story. But with all that aside, Florida legislature had to pass a bill to prevent measures such as this. The bill (known as HD 7029 or otherwise called the “Pop Tart” bill) exempts schools from taking disciplinary action when students:
Simulating firearms or weapons with food
Possessing toy firearms or weapons less than 2 inches in length
Using a finger to simulate a firearm or weapon
Making a gun noise (e.g., “bang” or “pew pew”)
Drawing or possessing pictures of weapons
Using a pencil or pen to simulate a gun
More importantly, the bill does recognize that students can still be punished for “substantially disrupting student learning” for any form of assault or battery that make partake to these instances.
Unlike Oklahoma’s bill that’s said to go into full effect this coming Tuesday, the Florida bill was already signed into law this past Friday by Gov. Rick Scott, along with a handful of other bills.
Perhaps now Florida students can chew their Pop Tarts in peace. Unfortunately for those students in the other 48 remaining states, might perchance face the same problem.
As you probably already know, there are a handful of apps out there on the market today. Some are free, some aren’t, some are useless and the list goes on and on… However, this is Apps for Legal Professionals, where I dedicate reviewing apps that are essentially “useful” (or I think are useful) to Legal Professionals. I’ve been covering this segment for over half a year now and there are a handful of apps that I probably should have covered yet, but haven’t. This week, we’re going to looking at an app called: “SignNow”, which surprisingly, I’ve overlooked.
In all honesty, I don’t get a lot requests for reviewing a specific app and if there is a request (which some of you may have) I get to it right away. For the most part, I’m searching through Google and various magazines to see what’s trending in the legal field. SignNow has been one of the apps that I’ve seen quite a number of times throughout my searches, but every time I’ve read its description it basically stated: “Sign documents on the fly or sign documents with your mobile device.”
While those statements may very well be true, SignNow has the capability to do a whole lot more than just “sign documents”.
SignNow – It’s more than “just” signing documents.
SignNow – It’s more than Just Signing Documents
To be completely fair, the app’s official title is: “SignNow – Sign & Fill PDF and Word Documents”. Does that mean you have to have a PDF or Word Document to start? No. If you’re using your mobile device, you can search through your photos and pull up an image of a document you took a photo of. The app is probably not going to render the document like you see in Scanner Pro, but usually that’s not where your documents are going to come from. Probably from a legal professional point of view, your documents are going to be in Word or PDF files.
But as I stated before, SignNow isn’t just for signing documents. The app (and fortunately enough there is an online application), has the ability to do the following:
Sign, date, check and type specific fields within an actual document. (Didn’t see this coming did you?)
Import actual fields for you or for someone else to sign, check or type into the actual document.
Import signatures (or images of signatures) from your mobile device or computer.
Convert your typed signature into actual signed signatures. (I thought this was probably the coolest function when using SignNow).
Send off documents for someone to sign via email via the SignNow program. Don’t worry; they don’t need to have a SignNow account.
While SignNow probably has a lot more functions, these are just the basic ones. From utilizing this application from a legal prospective, you probably won’t need to do anything else than what’s stated above. However, there is one strong limitation about this app that somewhat utterly disgusts me.
Is SignNow Really “Free?”
From a basic standpoint, the app is free and so is the web application. You don’t need to pay or even give a credit card when signing up. What utterly disgusts me is that you’re limited to 5 free document uploads per every 30 days. That can be a ‘real’ barn burner especially if you’re a legal professional who constantly sends out forms to their clients. Personally I haven’t seen any web applications that can top this program. If you plan for your clients to sign documents electronically via this program, you might want to consider upgrading to a pro version of SignNow you may end up paying approximately $25 a month or $15 if you plan to have a yearly subscription. Keep in mind that number can increase per the number of users you have using SignNow.
Recap of SignNow
In a short summary as I do with any of my app reviews, I’ll compile a simple Pros and Cons list. I always compile these lists just in-case you want to get to the juicy information about the app.
When you register for the application, it’s free – No credit is needed to sign up.
The actual app / program, allows for you to sign, fill in, date or check off information within any document by the simplicity of a click. In addition to that, you can resize the actual fields to your liking.
You can send off documents to others on the fly and what’s more interesting is that you will receive a confirmation when they sign the document. Furthermore, others don’t need to sign up for an account if they don’t want to.
If you didn’t think of this one already, SignNow is secure. This isn’t something I covered in my posts above, but I figured it was a concern to many since I am generating this discussion to legal professionals. For more information about SignNow’s security features, feel free to visit their website.
SignNow has the ability for the user to convert typed text into an actual signature. Furthermore you can customize on how the signature looks.
You can annotate different areas on the document where someone needs to fill in. (For example a signature).
You can import signatures.
You can import documents from anywhere and not just PDF or Word documents (I’m primarily focusing on documents you took a photo of and they’re in your camera roll).
Don’t be surprised – there aren’t too many cons to discuss. The first and probably the one that stands out the most is the limited number of documents you can upload per every 30 days with one account. That magic number is 5. Not 6, not 7, but 5. If you want unlimited uploads, you’ll need to upgrade for a charge of either $25 monthly or $15 per month on a yearly subscription.
The second con (which really isn’t a con of sorts) is the misleading description of the app. It seems from the forefront you can only sign documents and upload only documents. That’s not the case when you can upload photos too.
The app doesn’t render photo images into documents as programs like Scanner Pro does.
The only mobile device that doesn’t get any love in this is Blackberry.
There’s one final thought I wanted to touch base on with SignNow. You’re probably thinking that SignNow auto detects where signatures or signature lines that are in the actual document. That’s definitely not the case. You can simply click anywhere in the document and a form will pop-up with what you want to add. (That can be a signature, check box, date, text, etc.) But that shouldn’t get you discouraged. If you don’t hone in on where your imported object needs to be, you can simply move it with your cursor, stylus or finger. Remember you also have the ability to resize those objects too.
So this concludes my discussion on SignNow. If you want a bit more of an in-depth look on the app / program, don’t hesitate to visit SignNow’s website and try it out for yourself for free. What do you have to lose?